As the only Australian in the room at a few international gatherings, especially while I lived in the USA, I’ve become the personal link for the catastrophic climate events happening in my country.
North Perth is fine. We have stayed clear of fire, and of smoke, aside from a brief patch last week when the Baldivis fire blew a little bit of smoke our way. Thanks to an incredibly responsive fire department, the little flares about the place have not become big incidents. Of course this lengthened and horrific season is far from over, but so far for most of us in Perth the extreme heat has been a nuisance, not a hazard, and certainly not a trauma.
I have friends coping with the complete opposite, with the wrench of having to decide if and when to leave, and with or without what. And then coming home and having to repeat it over, and over.
It’s something that I remember having conversations about with my Nan. She watched her husband head out from their property in Piesse Brook in long pants and a shirt with a wool blanket to throw against the flames. She removed her washing from the line to pack a bag while she saw the fire fall down the opposite wall of the valley in which they lived. She overlooked an orchard with a creek. These neighbours became all that lay between her house and the fire. Miraculously the flames ceased their crawl towards them all on their descent into the valley.
This kind of brush with bushfire is not something you forget – it forges an impression so deep that it lives on in your grandchildren.
I hope my friends – and their friends – in these affected places are ok, but I know it’s a vain hope. I want the forests, the animals, the land to all be ok. They are not. I want the planet fixed so this doesn’t happen again. So we can go back to fires that crawl and can be stopped.